Raven drones scan area before Vandenberg rocket launches

From the LA Times

By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

Before the launch of a top-secret spy satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base, a fleet of small drones will be doing some spying of their own.

In yet another use of robotic aircraft, RQ-11 Raven drones equipped with high-powered video cameras will fly around the craggy launch site northwest of Santa Barbara, scouring the ground below to ensure that the area is clear for blastoff.

“Public safety is our first priority during launch operations, ” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Johnson, who is a Raven operator and crime prevention officer.

“Raven operations contribute to the overall safety of our mission by ensuring the area is clear of personnel while minimizing the number of people necessary to patrol the area.”

Full story http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-vandenberg-rocket-drones-20120329,0,274898.story